Monday, 3 November 2014

Confessions/Road2Hope HM race report/crazy ideas

This training cycle wasn't stellar.  I've always had a tendency to cheat (ie take rest breaks) during solo runs but the last few long runs, the breaks were getting ridiculous.  My 26K trail long run took me 3:22 but 4:47 in real time.  I was stopping every 200 m to stretch or massage my calves, which had a lactic acid-like burn and tightness, not excruciating, but felt like I couldn't run through.  Rest days and compression did little.  Magnesium cream definitely helped, but the issue still felt like just plain old fatigue.

I went to get my usual pre-race Graston/ART and when I mentioned the calf fatigue, Kevin told me that he suspected it might be compartment syndrome. However, he didn't tell me not to run, so on Sunday, I popped ibuprofen, slapped on Voltaren and KT taped my calves and hoped for the best.  

After missing out on sub 1:50 at last year's race, the plan this year was to lighten my HM racing schedule to focus on R2H. I ran most of my long runs on trail, so although I had the time on my feet, I didn't feel like I had the endurance effect of a continuous road long run, something that came back to haunt me at my disastrous pacing gig at Oakville last month.  Or was that mostly just my calves being ornery?

Race morning was a bigger clusterfuck than anticipated.  I have my old phone, which I use as an alarm, set to manually update time and I turned the clock back before I went to bed.  Apparently despite the manual setting, the clock still automatically went back another hour.  So I thought I was getting up at 5:15, went downstairs and saw everyone online on FB already and realized it was actually 6:15.  2nd mistake - I didn't read the part on the site that said the last bus left at 7:15 so my warmup consisted of running across the parking lot to the bus. 

Found the gang (#burlingtonskirtbrigade + Nicole + Kim) in the gym just as they were calling people to the start.  For the 2nd year in a row, the starting horn went off with us all crammed on the embankment on the side of the road. As the pack started to disperse, Nicole picked up the pace and I kept up for...maybe 500 m.  My calves felt all right, but my gut feeling told me that racing in the red zone for 21.1K wouldn't be a good idea.  I've already qualified for corral C at ATB.  I don't need a half marathon PB.  I needed a smart and quality race, one where I didn't blow up. So I dropped back a bit and let everyone go.

KMs 1-5: 5:23, 5:32, 5:23, 5:24, 5:36

I was actually pleasantly surprised that I could hold these paces comfortably, considering my speedwork had been a struggle, to say the least.  Greg, in his first half, started farther back and we ran together for about 1K and he took off just as the on ramp for the Red Hill came into view, despite him saying pre-race that he was going to run 5:40/k pace. Ha ha ha.

KMs 6-11: 5:18, 5:07, 5:24, 5:36, 5:43, 5:51

The original race plan called for sub 5 pace on the Red Hill, the wind made it impossible to gun it.  Ran with Kim on and off.  1st gel at 7K, few walking steps at the next water station for a drink. At the off ramp to Barton, I kept my stride very short, praying my calves would stay calm and they did.   I heard someone say "nice outfit!" only to realize they weren't talking to me, but to a girl wearing this hideous skort with neon yellow CEPs, an aqua tank with a neon yellow reverse mullet jacket that was really short in the back so that the tank was visible.  

KMs 12-16: 5:46, 5:59, 5:34, 5:42, 5:47

I was dreading the Red Hill section, because it's switching from road to trail during long runs that my calves have been the most unhappy.  Came to the bottom of that ridiculous brick hill and walked it. Calves still hanging in there.  Next hill was the one where the pavement began and kept my form and still felt good.  Bad habit wanted me to walk after that hill but I remembered:

Thank you, Mapleview lululemon, for my race day mantra.
2nd gel, very brief walk break through the next water station.  There was pretty much no break from the wind through this part of the race and I knew that at least after the final turnaround back on the beach path there would be a tailwind.

*2 guys bitching about the wind*
Me: yeah I can't wait to get out of this fucking headwind.
Guy #1: you should draft behind someone tall.
Me: like you?
Guy #2: I'm short and wide.  Pick someone else.

KMs 17-21.1: 5:51, 5:43, 5:45, 5:42, 5:35, 5:15

It was distinctly warmer with the wind behind me.  There were a lot of people walking/stopping to stretch and I kept moving, Relentless Forward Motion! I felt really good in this section and I felt like I passed a lot of people but my pace didn't show it.  I love being so familiar with the course.  Pass Hutch's.  Pass Wild Waterworks.  Pass the yellow bathroom.  Now a little incline.  I heard someone yell my name and I snapped out of my zone to catch Brandon's eye and yell hi back.  Garmin beeps 21K right at the final turn.  Now kick!  The clock was counting down the back half of 1:59 so there were some wild sprints going on all around me.

Happy to be finished, not so happy with our times.

Ah, the big old what's next?

My crazy idea is that in 2015, I am not going to be going for any PBs, except at ATB.  I will not run a marathon. I will pace my favourites: Chilly, Mississauga, NFWHM, Oakville. I will try more trail races.  I will return to Chase the Coyote.  I will try a duathlon.  I'm going to practice changing gears and attacking escarpment hills with Audrey Lexa.  I will try Spartan Super.  I might tackle a few swimming lessons. I've spent the past 7 years always pursuing time goals, and I think it's time for a change.